Valtellina or the Valtelline
valley; ( _it. Valtellina, _de. Veltlin, _rm. Vuclina) is a valley in the Lombardyregion of northern Italy, bordering Switzerland. Today it is known for its skiing, its hot springspas, its cheeses (in particular Bitto, named after the torrent Bitto) and its wines. In past centuries it was a key alpine pass between northern Italy and Germanyand control of the Valtelline was much sought after, particularly during the Thirty Years' War.
The most important commune of the valley is
Sondrio; others include Aprica, Morbegno, Tirano, and Bormio. Livigno, although on the northern side of the alpine watershed, can also be considered to be part of Valtellina as it falls within the province of Sondrio.
During the 16th, 17th and 18th century the Valtellina was part of
Graubünden, which was then a country independent of Switzerland, but is now the easternmost canton of Switzerland. Graubünden is the area in which German, Romansh and Italian are spoken and hence during 16th century rule by Graubünden, the region was known varyingly as "Veltlin, Westtirol" (West Tyrol), and as the "Welsche Vogteien" ("Foreign Bailiwicks").
In 1797 the growing power of the
First French Republiccreated the Cisalpine republicin Northern Italy. On 10 October 1797, the French supported a revolt in the Valtellina against the Graubünden(the "Grey Leagues"; "Grisons" in French, now a Swiss Canton) and joined the Cisalpine Republic.
In the region north of Morbegno in the Costiera dei Cech live a cultural group believed to descend from an 8th century Frankish invasion of Italy.
The area was originally a mix of Romansh and Italian languages but now Italian is the dominant language.
Industrially, the area is famous as the home of the world's first mainline electrified
railway. The electrification of the Valtellina line took place in 1902, using three-phase power at 3,600 V, with a maximum speed of 70 km/h. The system was designed by the brilliant Hungarian engineer Kálmán Kandówho was employed by main contractors the Budapest-based Ganzcompany.
In Valtellina the wines are produced mainly by "Chiavennasca" (the local name of
Nebbiolo grape variety). Generally the quality of the wine is high, and most wines have the appellationDOC and DOCG. The most well-known red wines are: Inferno, Grumello, Sassellaand Sforzato(Sfurzat).
In the lower part of
Valposchiavo, in Switzerlandsome wines are also produced, similar to the Italian wines, but with differing regulations (i.e. appellationand allowance of sugaraddition, or chaptalization).
Further reading: F Pieth: Bündnergeschichte, 1982, ISBN 3-85894-002-X
* [http://www.uni-mannheim.de/mateo/camenaref/cmh/cmh402.html An extensive history of the Valtelline area]
* [http://www.valtellina.it/ Tourist information]
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